Tampa General jumps to nation’s fourth busiest transplant program
In 2011, Tampa General Hospital became Florida’s busiest transplant center, and the nation’s fourth busiest, by closing out a record-setting year with 500 transplants.
A surge in transplant activity at Tampa General catapulted the busy program from tenth to fourth among 258 transplant centers nationwide, according to data released by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN).
The OPTN figures for 2011 also show that each of TGH’s transplant programs - heart, liver, lung, kidney/pancreas, and kidney - ranked among the nation’s 10 busiest centers for the first time in the hospital’s history.
Ron Hytoff, president and CEO of Tampa General, credited the achievement to the hospital’s established partnership with the organ-procurement agency LifeLink Foundation, located near the Tampa General campus. Hytoff added that the milestone also reflects the close working relationship among the many specialties involved in the transplant program.
Angie Korsun, administrator of the Tampa General Transplant Program, also attributes the 80-transplant increase last year to a combination of variables – patient referrals, voluminous patient evaluations, additional staff, organ availability via an aggressive approach to donors, and a good organ procurement organization (OPO), which she noted is “quite productive.”
The increase in liver transplants may be attributed to the national increase in the presence of hepatitis C, Korsun said. Diabetes accounts for the most common cause of kidney transfers, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“The story behind the numbers is the unselfish generosity of the families and patients who agree to donate organs,” said Korsun, noting that some kidney and liver transplants are possible because they may come from living donors identified as a match. Grieving families “make the decision to donate, often at a time of intense sadness, so others may live. It’s one of those occasions in which someone’s tragedy becomes another person’s salvation.”
Even though some transplants took place at Tampa General in the 1960s, official programs were established later: kidney transplants in June 1974, pediatric kidney transplants in 1983, heart transplants in June 1985, liver transplants in 1996, pancreas transplants in February 2001, and lung transplants in June 2002. Transplants are costly, ranging from $263,000 for a kidney to $1.15 million for a heart-lung, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
According to the OPTN’s statistics for Tampa General:
The most significant volume increase for the hospital last year was liver transplants, which jumped from 91 transplants in 2010 to 126. The significant increase moved the liver transplant program from the nation’s 25th busiest to the ninth among 131 liver transplant programs, according to the OPTN.
The heart transplant program maintained its 2010 ranking as the nation’s fifth busiest among the 126 centers in the country, logging 58 transplants in 2011.
The kidney transplant program joined the nation’s Top 10 last year, with 240 transplants, which accounted for nearly half of all organ transplants at Tampa General.
Tampa General performed 20 kidney-pancreas transplants in 2011, becoming the nation’s sixth busiest kidney-pancreas program.
The 56 lung transplants performed last year pushed the program to the eighth busiest among the 63 centers performing lung transplants nationwide.
UNOS, the agency that manages the nation’s organ transplant system for the federal government, administers the OPTN, which releases patient volume statistics every spring for transplant centers in the United States.